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Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson
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This is the third book of the trilogy, but there’s apparently a fourth book in the works. Which is no bad thing, as it’s been an excellent series so far – and I’m not the only person to think so, as Europe in Winter won the BSFA Award only last month (although, bafflingly, it didn’t make the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist; should I blog what I think of this year’s Clarke shortlist, or are we not allowed to have dissenting opinions any more?). It’s more of the same like Europe in Autumn, rather than Europe at Midnight, and in part follows on from the plot of the first more than that second. There’s a terrorist attack on the Line, and Rudi discovers his own father was heavily involved with a bunch of rogue topographers from the 1920s who might or might not have been responsible for an entirely separate pocket universe that might or might not be part of the Community. The person who promised so much in the the second book is assassinated from a distance in this one, abruptly cutting off that particular avenue of exploration by the narrative… Where these books are especially good – and it’s not the melding of sf and spy thriller, which has been done before, although no examples spring immediately to mind – but these books’ true strength is in depicting Europe as a coherent federation of cultures. They’re not entirely harmonious cultures, which is hardly unexpected, but the Europe books exhibit a magnificent sense of place. They could not have been written by a US author, that much is obvious; it’s slightly surprising they were written by a Brit… because the best European fiction has always been written by continental Europeans, not Brits. It’s an impressive achievement, which means cavilling over elements of the plots seems, well, cheap. But there are holes – the opening bombing is never satisfactorily explained, there’s always a sense the author is following a different agenda to his characters (and his readers must follow the characters’, of course), and there are one or two set-pieces which hint at a level of technology that’s never quite capitalised upon. But these are are minor quibbles. These are great books, superior near-future sf, and I’d put them in the top five of recent near-future sf with, er, Ken McLeod’s Intrusion – and that’s about it. Go read all three books. ( )
1 vote iansales | May 18, 2017 |
A parallel Europe is slowly splintering into a mosaic of polities and fiefdoms. Coureurs, spies, thugs and assorted shady characters move back and forth across a multitude of borders, some more permeable than others. The Line - a kilometre-wide nation which cuts across Europe from Portugal to the Urals - is bombed; a fifties England, preserved in a pocket universe, has unleashed a deadly plague and now wants peace with the Continent; a scientist is assassinated; maps become the territory; and no one is quite sure what everyone else actually wants. The third book in the series continues in the tradition of the first two in being hard to follow unless you're paying very close attention... and even then I'm not sure that you're meant to follow. It's a fractured novel, mirroring the fractured Europe it describes. A large cast of characters, locations and situations rarely coheres into a linear narrative; a plot is hard to come by, motivations are obscure, and no one is quite who they seem to be. Throw in parallel universes, time dilation, and dozens of border crossings - not all of them shown on any map - and you're never entirely clear where, or when, you are. Having said that, all three books (so far - there are more to come) are curiously satisfying; recurring characters and themes add a layer of resonance, if not coherence, to the convoluted, pacy but frequently opaque proceedings. ( )
  PeterCrump | Mar 16, 2017 |
Another strong outing from Dave Hutchinson as his Europe becomes so Fractured as to feel kaleidoscopic. This was both entertaining and frustrating as I found myself increasingly unable to keep track of who / what / why. Nonetheless, it's a great execution of the themes it embraces, and as with each book in the sequence it pushes the concept another three steps further and stands the other side of an invisible line grinning at you, waiting for you to catch up.

I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Full review ( )
  imyril | Nov 19, 2016 |
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